Donald Trump: Shut Down the Government to Defund Planned Parenthood

He gives exactly the answer many conservative activists wanted to hear.

US billionaire Donald Trump (Back Facing) speaks to the media as he arrives at the Women's British Open Golf Championships in Turnberry, Scotland, on July 30, 2015.

PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

The Republican Party's front-running presidential candidate wants congressional leaders to shut down the federal government in order to defund Planned Parenthood.

Donald Trump said the Republican-led Congress should take the plunge, appearing Monday on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt's show, where Trump was told the “only way to get rid of Planned Parenthood money” is to “shut the government down” when money expires on Sept. 30.

“Would you support that?” Hewitt asked.

“I can tell you this: I would,” Trump responded.

The real estate mogul, who is dominating the party's presidential field in recent national polls, gave exactly the answer many conservative activists wanted to hear. The cause of stripping roughly $500 million in annual federal funds for Planned Parenthood has been reignited after videos surfaced in July of the group's officials discussing the cost of aborted fetal tissue used in medical research. (The group denies allegations that it was attempting to illegally sell fetal tissue.)

Trump, whose remarks came three days before the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, also defended the 2013 government shutdown that stemmed from a failed attempt to defund Obamacare.

“If the Republicans stuck together, you could have done it with Obamacare also. But the Republicans decided not to stick together. And they left a few people out there, like Ted Cruz,” Trump said, referring to the Texas senator and rival Republican presidential candidate who pushed hardest for the 2013 shutdown, and is deploying similar rhetoric now over Planned Parenthood.

“If they stuck together they would've won that battle. I think you have to in this case also, yes,” Trump added.

On Monday afternoon, a standalone Republican-led bill to defund Planned Parenthood failed to defeat a Democratic filibuster, securing 53 votes in favor and 46 against. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, who has promised there'll be no shutdowns on his watch, preserved his ability to bring up the same legislation again. Though he didn't reveal his next moves, his options are to re-do the vote (which would likely lead to the same result), give up (which would draw conservative backlash) or attach the bill to must-pass government funding legislation (which would invite a government shutdown).

Unlike many other Republicans, Cruz has declined to criticize Trump over his inflammatory remarks likening Mexican immigrants to “rapists.” The two rivals met at Trump Tower in New York City last month, winning the Texas senator praise from the real estate mogul.

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